What It Was, Wasn’t Racing – Part Deux

[media-credit name=”Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images” align=”alignright” width=”225″][/media-credit]Restrictor plate racing is not racing. You have read it here from me for a long time, but rarely do we hear it from the competitors. Often, we hear lots of non-comments from the drivers which usually consist of utterings like, “that’s Talladega” or “this is the way it is.” That wasn’t so on this weekend. The family that is NASCAR had already seen Eric McClure go head on into a wall and get helicoptered to a hospital. And then the last third of the Aaron’s 499 became a mockery of what NASCAR racing has been and further proof that there is just something wrong here.

It was not surprising that Mark Martin did not enter this race. He has quietly expressed his displeasure with this type of racing. There are several others, but it’s a fact of life that if you want to compete for the Sprint Cup Championship, you have to race at Daytona and Talladega. Luckily for him, Martin isn’t interested in that anymore, even though he came so close so many times, He was hosting his fan appreciation event in Arkansas, but what of those participating?

Jeff Gordon, who retired his car early, had a gripe about the overheating that was the rule in the race. This was an attempt by NASCAR to break up the two car tandems and go back to pack racing, which fans said they preferred. He said NASCAR should look at that. We’ll see. But the most interesting comments came from Sprint Cup Champ Tony Stewart. His press conference had to be the most unusual I’ve ever witnessed. He said (paraphrasing here) that there were not enough cars wrecked during the race and that the race should be extended if half the cars had not been wrecked. Further, he said that a figure-eight change to Talladega SuperSpeedway might be in order to assure that enough wrecks happened to please the fans.

Tony probably had his tongue firmly planted in his cheek, but the point was well taken. Ever since Bobby Allison got lifted into the fence at Talladega, restrictor plates have been the rule and I don’t see anything to change that now. Never mind that there might be solutions other than restrictor plates to the problem, this is what we have to deal with. Drivers hate these races, more Talladega than Daytona, but it matters not. This is what we have to deal with.

Restrictor plate racing gives the fans an unnatural atmosphere. Racing has its good cars and it’s bad. In a perfect world, the good cars go to the front and the bad cars don’t. Daytona and Talladega lets everyone play. It doesn’t matter if you are good or bad, you can win. It’s a noble idea. Just ask David Ragan, a guy who doesn’t have a chance at most tracks, but was in the mix for the win Sunday. Of course he had a big time ride last year and nearly won at both Daytona and Talladega, but this year, he’s driving for the underfunded Front Row Racing team, and yet he was up front and looking good because of his skill.

I agree with the champ. We have tried to make NASCAR like football, basketball, and baseball. It’s just cannot be done. Racing is racing and has nothing to do with sticks and balls. Despite all the changes, and by that I mean the Lucky Dog, wave around, and double file restarts, attendance continues to decline and TV rating continue to do the same. Maybe it’s time to make some real changes at Daytona and Talladega and look at what we aren’t. We aren’t football, basketball, and baseball. Recent surveys indicate that folks hate the Chase—about 75% of them. Maybe it’s time to go back to racing, No contrived rules (and that includes restrictor plates—find a real solution) and the realization that we are different from the other sports. It’s a unique perspective, I know, and one I don’t ever expect anyone to endorse, but I can dream.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com


  1. The solution is simple: just flatten one turn at Talladega and Daytona. This will lower the speeds enough to allow NASCAR to trash restrictor plate rules and allow real racing.

  2. I guess the non-bitchin fans would always want a race that always brings the threat of death, destroys millions of dollars worth of cars, and has no racing until 2 laps remains. Is that it, Gary?

    This place should be, as Kyle Petty once said, cemented up and filled with water and stocked with fish.

    Who benefits? NA$CAR walks away to the bank.

  3. “everyone can win” if that was true, why are the same guys winning. Not just anyone can win a restrictor plate race. The races are a spectacle, they produce a lot of the highlights for commercials. I would understand if they ran 10 of them a year but it’s 4 times a year. If all the cars are the same, these multicar teams should bring the worst car in the shop, if they are worried about tearing it up. This race actually wasnt bad. One GWC and only a few cautions total.

  4. To Gary …I’m real tired of the FANS whining, crying, and booing! To the media…Stewart’s interview was on point, hilarious, and sobering. I got it…but I don’t think most of the media had a clue! I keep reading “the fans should be mad..how dare Stewart slam the fans..well I don’t believe it was the fans he was talking about..the fans didn’t close up the air intake, the fans didn’t make the radiators smaller, the fans didn’t change the gas cans, the fans didnt take away car to car communication, the fans didnt change the restrictor plate sizes…hmmm wonder who did? Yes, many fans didn’t like the tandem racing…but NASCAR is in charge…they should know better. I love Talladega .. And it scares me to death. Watching the race Sunday was most more then I could stand…

    • Any one with a grain of sense knows exactly what Tony was saying and why he said it that way and still at least one so called reporter went to NASCAR about a possible fine. Way to go Tony.

  5. Talladega racing is exciting to watch, with the cars being so close together. I really appreciate the skill needed to drive that race. The same can be said for Bristol or the Road Courses. Cars get torn up.
    If drivers like Stewart don’t want their cars damaged in races, maybe they should be in a tamer, cleaner, more refined sport! I’m a fan who is damned tired of these primadonas, bitchin & crying all the time!

    • Gary,
      Drivers have the right to point out the short coming of NASCAR. NASCAR doesn’t hear the fans. If they did the chase would have lasted one season. They are going to keep going until all the money is gone, sponsorship has dried up, and TV doesn’t want to cover races. Then they will realize that the chase isn’t doing what they wanted it to do. They should take about 20 degrees out of the banking at Daytona and Talladega and shorten the race to 400 miles. Option 2 See comment above about the fishing pond.


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